Here in the UK we are a nation of renters, with the private rented sector accounting for 4.7m households. There are a lot of advantages to renting, but what happens when you’re stuck with a nightmare landlord?
I know I wouldn’t have been able to move out of home without the option of renting, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a run of good landlords. One even replaced our vacuum cleaner with one especially designed to be anti-allergy after I developed a particularly horrible reaction to dust.
But chatting to a colleague at Which?, I was amazed to hear some of her stories of landlords that showed that renting can be more of a gamble than I previously thought.
Among the renting tales she regaled me with was a landlord who held back £1000 of a £1500 deposit, citing £250 for cleaning the oven, nearly £300 for cleaning the windows, and almost £250 for laundering the curtains.
I also heard a story of a landlord charging someone £100 for clearing leaves from the garden (despite it being autumn) and tidying up the outside space. This was in spite of him forking out a fair amount to improve the garden with plants, flowers and a completely new bamboo fence.
Dealing with dodgy landlords
But what can you do if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of a landlord nabbing more than you believe they should from your deposit? Or if the landlord has failed to fix something that is their responsibility, such as a major structural repair? How can you complain?
If you want to complain about your landlord, there are a couple of options that you can go for, including trade bodies and accreditation schemes. Landlords who are members of trade bodies such as the National Landlords Association and the Residential Landlords Association must comply by their codes of practice.
Don’t despair for your deposit
For disputes with your landlord over the return of your deposit, the rules differ depending on when you paid it. If you paid your deposit after 6 April 2007, the landlord should have put it in a tenancy deposit protection scheme and you can use our template letter to claim for the money back. If you paid your deposit before 6 April 2007, you can still write to your landlord but use this template letter.
So far, my experiences with landlords have been positive, but I’ve learned that rentals can go wrong. Have you ever had a rental nightmare? Did you know who to complain to, and if you did, what was the outcome?